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Our work at Godrevy

View towards Godrevy lighthouse and cliffs across a beach on a sunny day
Rangers from the Trust work alongside local farmers to maintain the heathland overlooking the coast | © National Trust Images/Juliet Turner

As wild as Godrevy feels, this rugged landscape requires a constant cycle of maintenance and care. From regenerating wildflowers to keeping walking routes clear, our work helps to preserve the balance between nature and the people who come here.

The heathland at Godrevy

Changes in land management at Godrevy Farm have resulted in some eye-catching views over the headland. The stars of the show are a crop of super-pollinating Phacelia. Introduced into the arable and green cropping fields, they benefit nature and farmers alike, since they attract wildlife and break down to create fertile manure for follow-on crops.

Visible from all around Carbis Bay, the farm is a perfect example of how nature and agriculture can work hand-in-hand to help halt species decline, improve levels of biodiversity and tackle climate change. It's also a great example of how farming can be sustainable, productive and profitable.

Reversing the decline in nature

Three years ago, the National Trust ranger team started to work alongside the farm's tenants. The aim was to make changes that would align more with the Trust’s plans to help restore nature and reverse the decline in wildlife on the land in its care.

Changes you'll see at Godrevy include the planting of wild seed margins, which are bringing more wildlife back to the heart of the farm. This provides wildlife-rich corridors that link up with the existing coastal habitats nearby. On site, the team are restoring flower-rich meadows, planting trees and making changes to the management of the Cornish hedges that weave through the farm.

Planting the Phacelia improves the condition of the soil by helping to increase stores of carbon and creating better structure. The flowers are also a rich food source – particularly for invertebrates such as butterflies and bees.

Shetland ponies grazing on a cliff
Dinner with a view | © National Trust Images/Harry Davies

Shetland ponies

The Shetland ponies at Godrevy are happy in the blustery exposed conditions on the headland. They're out grazing all year round, which helps to keep vegetation under control.

Ponies are actually selective grazers and don't tend to eat flowers. This means they're happy munching their way through grass stems, gorse and cut vegetation. They also trample the ground, which, in moderation, is beneficial as it opens the sward, allowing the plants and wildflowers to flourish.

Restoring wildflower meadows

We are also working on restoring and creating wildflower meadows, which will hugely benefit wildlife and the environment.

The team has already started to grow barley, which will reduce the excess nutrients in the soil - an essential part of meadow creation. The restoration work will also include sowing hay rattle to reduce the growth of grass. This will allow space for wildflowers to thrive.

Flowers at Godrevy

Among the flowers found at Godrevy are the purple eyebright (a version of the more common white eyebright) and white bell heather (a version of the more common purple bell heather). Common centaury, goldenrod, St John’s wort and wild carrot also flower here.

The Knavocks has been grazed by ponies for over 10 years now, and swathes of saw-wort have been flowering for the last few years. If it wasn't for clearing and grazing, these wildflowers wouldn’t be here.

Letting nature breathe

Fewer visitors in 2020 gave nature at Godrevy the chance to thrive, and when you visit Godrevy you’ll notice that some areas have been roped off to give them a helping hand.

Doing this allows these spaces to breathe more freely, while still enabling visitors to enjoy the landscape.

Creating pathways

Wider and more accessible paths have been created to allow visitors to explore the headland and soak up the expansive views along this rugged stretch of coastline. You can help by sticking to the footpaths and keeping dogs on leads.

This also helps protect the history underfoot. Much of this area is designated a scheduled ancient monument, and archaeologists have discovered that the headland has been farmed since way back in history. Indeed, the name Godrevy is derived from the Cornish word meaning 'small farm'.

People carrying surfboards walking away from the camera at Godrevy
Surfers head towards Godrevy beach | © National Trust Images/Ben Selway

Balancing wildlife and humans

Godrevy is a magnet for sun worshippers, surfers, picnickers, swimmers and walkers, to name a few. It’s also home to ground-nesting birds, small mammals, reptiles and rare invertebrates. Part of the rangers’ job is to ensure that all manner of visitors are happy here.

Protecting Godrevy's grey seals

Godrevy is a particularly important site for a large number of grey seals. Peering down from the viewing area, it may feel like they're far away, but we ask everyone to keep a respectful hush so that the seals aren't disturbed as they haul out onto the beach.

Whatever catches your eye on the land, in the sea or in the sky, we’d love to see your pictures of this beautiful wild space. Please share them online by using the hashtag #NTGodrevyWild.

The rangers and volunteers

National Trust rangers and volunteers are kept busy looking after the coastal countryside at Godrevy. Next time you're here, take a note of the gates, stiles, fence and signs. It's likely that the rangers installed them. Some of their other responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the footpaths clear

  • Building walkways, boardwalks and bridges

  • Keeping the drainage routes clear

  • Carrying out controlled burning of gorse and scrub

  • Clearing ragwort from the coastal countryside

  • Cutting back scrubland

  • Clearing rubbish from beaches and countryside

  • Improving visitor facilities, such as surfacing car parks

  • Clearing trees and tending to the site after weather events like storms

  • Hosting Bioblitzes and surf competitions

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

A gate along a coastal path with a view of the lighthouse in the background a Godrevy, Cornwall


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